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Uncovering the Truth About the 1981 Hunger Strike

Irish News: Duddy ‘never given written statement’

Duddy ‘never given written statement’
THE HUNGER STRIKE
By Staff Reporter
29/09/09

THE go-between working with the republican leadership during the Hunger Strike has revealed that he was never given a written copy of the statement which the British were prepared to release to the hunger strikers.

Brendan Duddy, who acted as go-between between Sinn Fein and the British government since the early 1970s, said information was always given by telephone because then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher had vowed never to talk to republicans.

Known to both sides by the code name ‘The Mountain Climber,’ he continued his work right through to the ongoing peace process.

Mr Duddy, a former member of the Policing Board, spoke about taking part at a meeting in Derry earlier this year where the families of hunger strikers had gathered.

At that meeting at the Gasyard Centre he was questioned at length by members of the audience – which included Richard O’Rawe and leading figures from the time.

The Derry man told the meeting the information he received from the British was always by telephone and never in written form.

He said this was because Mrs Thatcher had vowed never to talk to republicans.

Mr Duddy stressed that it was never his role to interpret or advise on the content of the information he received.

He told the meeting: “What I cannot do is speak for what the past or current leadership of the IRA, Sinn Fein or Provisionals did.”

Mr Duddy said negotiations about the prisoners’ demands continued from the end of the first hunger strike in December 1980 right up until they reached a climax in the days before Joe McDonnell died.

He was asked why he only gave details of the negotiations and possible deal to the IRA and did not pass them on to the INLA. He said his contact work had always been with the IRA.

“It was not a matter of not making the approach to the INLA. My contact was as a result of working with Ruairi O Bradaigh, Daithi O’Connell and Sean Keenan among others,” Mr Duddy said.

He confirmed to the meeting that the documents detailing the British statement as received through a Freedom of Information request was an accurate version apart from “one or two minor points”  of the statement he was given by the British. But he stressed no written form was given to him at the time.

He also confirmed that he supplied the response from the IRA to the British government that the statement was not enough and had to be “added to”. Mr Duddy said he could not recall anyone talking about the “tone” of the statement at any time.

Sourced from The Irish News

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